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Medicine and conscience

August 22, 2008

Re "Doctors' faith must yield to gays' rights, court says," Aug. 19

What struck me in this article about doctors having no right to refuse to perform a procedure in violation of their consciences was the statement that "civil libertarian groups sided with [Guadalupe T.] Benitez," the plaintiff.

The proper response of a civil libertarian would be to inform Benitez that she was free to seek a doctor who believed in her right to have artificial insemination. She is not free to violate another person's right to decline such treatment.

I am reminded of the coercive and punitive tactics employed in many medical schools and teaching hospitals toward residents who object to performing abortions because of their religious beliefs. Now there's an issue for civil libertarians to care about. It seems like only certain political views are tolerated.

Elizabeth Silva

Los Osos


The very act of refusing a legal and indicated treatment based on reasons having nothing to do with medicine is proselytizing. Patients are in a vulnerable position and should not have to fear that they will be embarrassed by someone to whom they have exposed their most personal information, only to find that they are dealing with an amateur preacher.

Physicians (and pharmacists, for that matter) should be required by law to follow "truth in packaging" rules by listing -- where it can be easily read -- all procedures and drugs they will not dispense because of religious convictions. We pay taxes to support medical schools that train physicians and pharmacists to care for all patients, not just those who follow the health giver's religion.

H. Winet



I must protest the loaded headline. Since when is discrimination a part of any faith? More accurately, the headline would have read "Doctors' religious-based prejudices must yield to civil rights."

There is altogether too much talk about "faith" when faith is no part of the issue.

Steve Hoffmann

Redondo Beach

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